We have a long list of customers who are ready to buy whatever we produce!
Joel, his wife Amy and daughter Sadie are the farmers near Lake Havasu, Arizona. Several years ago, Joel’s family began an adventure in search of wholesome food. That led them to form Fort Rock Farms as a way to produce and distribute nutritious, naturally grown food to their Lake Havasu City friends and family. The same food we set out in search of so long ago.
Joel’s path to farming began with being lured by, as he says, “Joel Salatin’s silver tongue.” They underestimated the difficulties, rewards and how it would completely change their path forever, something they’ve documented in an amazing series of blog posts of their 7-year journey to going completely off-grid.
Fort Rock Farms produces grass-fed beef, pork, pastured chicken, eggs, veggies, and honey. Back in 2010 and prior to starting the farm, Joel ran into some business challenges after the recession.
“In 2010 we had a few clients fold up which left us holding a hefty stack of unpaid invoices,” Joel explained. “This was the first and only time I have been left with the uncomfortable feeling of financial insecurity for my family. Never had a life without a mortgage, car payments or utility bills seemed so appealing. We buckled down and fought our way through it, coming out much stronger on the other end with the urge for simple living now front and center. We hopped in Amy’s Jeep to hit the road for a week, looking at rural property and researching what it would take to turn the daydream into a reality. It took over a year to find an untouched 50-acre property that fit our needs which were good soil, great water source yet still close enough to Lake Havasu to commute while we built our new life.”
Thus began their exciting farm dream to financially sustain their new lifestyle. But as Joel discovered, starting a farm is much more challenging that starting other businesses, because he was both starting a business AND building an off-grid home. This made it very difficult to stay focused on critical business priorities.
“Before joining Small Farm Nation Academy we had the same struggles all small businesses face,” Joel explained. “A lack of focus, trying to do too many things at once, etc. But Small Farm Nation Academy helped us set clear goals regarding marketing and narrowing down the number of key products we would focus on.”
“Having enough product to sell is typically our challenge. There are so many buyers ready to invest in our story, it’s hard to feed them all. Big dreams mean big expenses. Focusing on the business side of farming and having a clear plan would have saved us thousands of dollars in the beginning.”
Ah, but hindsight is 20:20. After excitedly starting a farm business many of us later learn that it would have been best to prioritize marketing, strategy and the business side of farming earlier. But Joel has advice for others who have yet to embrace marketing the way he and Amy did.
“You started farming to farm; not become a marketing professional. After the first season with Small Farm Nation Academy, that’s exactly what we were able to do. Marketing is less than 15% of what our time goes to now. Our email campaigns are simple yet effective. Our social media presence is minimal as we now have a long list of direct customers that are ready to buy whatever we produce, many of them in bulk.”
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